Coulson faces re-trial over alleged royal payments

British prime minister David Cameron’s ex-media chief Andy Coulson — found guilty over phone hacking while editing a Rupert Murdoch tabloid — will stand trial for a second time over alleged illegal payments.

Coulson was convicted by a jury of being complicit in widespread tapping of voicemails by journalists at Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World following an eight-month trial at London’s Old Bailey.

However, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on whether Coulson and the paper’s former royal editor, Clive Goodman, were guilty of making illegal payments to a police officer to obtain telephone directories for Britain’s royal family. They denied the accusations.

Rebekah Brooks, the ex-chief executive of News Corp’s British newspaper arm News International, who was also tried over phone hacking allegations and other crimes, was cleared on all charges.

The announcement of the re-trial was made as Coulson and three other senior journalists, who have admitted their role in phone hacking, appeared in court for a sentencing hearing.

“These defendants utterly corrupted that newspaper which became at the very highest level a thoroughly criminal enterprise,” said prosecutor Andrew Edis.

Coulson,46, edited the News of the World between 2003 and 2007. He stepped down after Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire admitted hacking into phones of royal aides.

Following a new police probe, three other senior journalists from the tabloid, Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck, and James Weatherup pleaded guilty to being part of a conspiracy to hack phones.

The maximum sentence for conspiracy to hack phones is two years in prison.

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